In the latest round of singing competition shakeups, it’s being reported that Jennifer Hudson could become one of the judges on American Idol next season. Hudson would become the first Idol alum to take a seat on the panel of judges, a marked difference from the show’s recent push for superstar recording artists with little-to-no prior affiliation with the competition.
Hudson isn’t the only one, though. Amid talks of her potential return to the show, rumors have it that the panel could be comprised of more former Idol hopefuls, creating an all-star reunion of talent while the show retools itself following a season of disappointing ratings.
Whether or not bringing back familiar faces to critique talent will save the show’s free-falling ratings is certainly up for deliberation, but with the right combination of judges, mixed with an intriguing retooling of the show in other departments, could prove beneficial for Idol in the long run. Here’s a few other former Idols that could assist in that process.
One of the rumored possibilities to be hired as a judge, Adam Lambert, is one of the show’s more popular recent contestants, and one with an undeniable grasp of singing and performing on multiple levels. Lambert would certainly be able to pinpoint and pick out the musical aspects of a contestant’s performance and appeal, but he was known during his tenure in the competition for being able to reinvent and retool the songs he was singing for his own purpose and vision. If the show was like The X-Factor in that the judges were also mentors, that would be a perfect line for Lambert, who could also assist in the creative process as well as the singing. Still, from the Idol booth he could certainly give out some interesting advice in that realm, highlighting each contestant’s strengths to best accentuate the showman side of their performances, as that has always been his specialty.
Although her rep has denied potential involvement with the show, Kelly Clarkson has also been connected to Idol as of late. Whether there were actual talks to bring the first American Idol on board or it was mere wishful thinking from online fans, Clarkson as a judge certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea. She would supply a definite star power injection for the panel; she and Carrie Underwood, after all, are the main two contestants that still retain a major degree of popularity to this day. Plus, Kelly’s kind of hilarious. She might not pull out the weird gimmicks Randy Jackson presented later in his judging career (“Gimmicks?! Yo, this writer is not in it to win it, Ryan!”), but I’ll bet her mere presence on the show would drive back some viewership and would retain it through the singer’s bright personality. I know it’s apparently confirmed to not be happening, but make it happen anyway, Idol!
I wouldn’t have been sure about this until I saw Clay Aiken‘s role as a judge on an a cappella singing competition on the penultimate episode of The Office this year. Aiken would have the right blend of humor and perspective to the show, plus given his standing as a fan favorite despite having been on the show over a decade ago, he could become one of the show’s more celebrated judges. I could see him being a Keith Urban type, one who always dispenses great technical advice but is also up there clearly enjoying each performance as well. You know, having a lot of fun doing one’s job.
There’s no doubt that Carrie Underwood is a busy lady, so why not get a singer that has not only found success post-Idol in the same world, but also has some recent TV competition experience under her belt? Kellie Pickler is a formidable choice to lead the way when critiquing the show’s country-minded contestants, having released three well-received records in the genre since she finished in fifth place on Idol in 2005. Pickler’s quirky, even ditzy demeanor could also provide a boost of energy for the panel, which has ranged from its serious earlier years to goofier recent moments. Plus, Pickler was recently crowned champion of Dancing With the Stars, meaning her star power has experienced a bit of a rise as of late. Why not hitch your wagon up to that right now?
Oh, come on. You first looked at this choice and thought, “Him?” But after a few moments, you realized that this wouldn’t be the worst idea. Taylor Hicks won American Idol during its fifth season, and while he’s admittedly done little in the public eye since, his place in the general conscious of Idol viewers lives on due to his charismatic attitude and high-energy performances, shouts of “Soul Patrol” withstanding. Hicks would be enjoyable on the show as part of the judges panel, not as its star power but as an entertaining champion of the contestants, one who could dispense advice on how to get far on the show. Maybe he could even speak to what not to do after winning Idol – we imagine he might have a few ideas on how to play it differently. Hell, it could propel him back to some form of stardom.
Honorable mentions: Jordin Sparks, Chris Daughtry, Casey Abrams, Crystal Bowersox, Justin Guarini (sorry not sorry)
– Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com (all photos via Getty)